Posts Tagged ‘Egypt’

I’ve mentioned before that we’ve made multiple visits to the Field Museum in Chicago, but that doesn’t stop it from making a good subject; quite the opposite.

I don’t remember the first time I personally went to the Field Museum, but it seems like it was a while ago. Maybe in high school or college. Anyway, in recent years, we’ve made it a regular destination whenever we visit Chicago for any length of time.

That’s because it has the distinction of being the museum that got Shaylyn, a.k.a. The Kid, into Egypt, and history in general. Before that, she would have much rather seen dinosaurs and natural history than archaeology exhibits.

There she is, Sue, the T-rex.

The day was just Sam, Shaylyn and I, although we met up with Jen and Andrea later on. One of the nice things about the Field Museum is that when Sam needed to answer work emails or do a little writing, there’s great Internet connectivity throughout the building, which isn’t always the case in big museums. And, there’s lots of little nooks and quiet areas to sit down in when you need a rest, as you well might.

There’s no shortage of amazing artifacts and information on all of those topics at the Field Museum, which is often known for their Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, affectionately named Sue (She has her own Twitter, people.)

So, Sue and the ancient Egypt exhibit (thankfully a permanent display) are two of the must-see stops at the Field Museum, but there are certainly others, too.

The massive collections of animals make up whole wings of the museum, and deservedly so. It’s easy to get lost examining all the different birds, reptiles, and animals of every continent.

We spent a good chunk of the day doing just that, and took a break for lunch in the museum café, which is surprisingly well-priced considering they have something of a captive audience.

The Kid took a ton of animal photos at the Field Museum, of which this is one. I would say what they are but I really don't know, other than they appear to be some kind of goat.

Later, we made sure to hit the current special exhibit, about horses, which was packed with people, so a little hard to get through, but worthwhile. It explored the historical bond between horses and people, in a scientific yet heartstring-tugging way, which was not lost on The Kid one bit; she’s been campaigning for a horse since then. Ummm, thanks, Field Museum! Anyway, that’s running through mid-August, so check it out if you get a chance.

The special exhibit Underground Adventure also was pretty cool, especially for kids interested in bugs and plants. We had to rush through it a little in order to have enough time in the gift shop, sadly.

Anyway, the other note I have to make here is that they had a spring break membership discount that actually paid for itself on the day, with shopping discounts and a break on the admission price for our little group.

If they offer similar deals at other times of the year, don’t just assume it’s not worthwhile and walk by—do the math! It was a great value for us, and would be for anyone who visits the museum more than once in a year.

What’s your favorite Chicago museum? We might have to expand our repertoire onward from the Field in the future.


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The Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago probably isn’t the most popular travel destination around the City of Big Shoulders. It’s a little far away from the main tourist destinations, and while you’ll find lots of great little shops and restaurants, not to mention the best bookstore in the world, there’s no real attraction to the neighborhood if you don’t have a reason to be there.

Thankfully, over the past decade or so, I’ve had plenty of reason to wander around Hyde Park, since my sister first attended University of Chicago and then lived in something like 20 different apartments in the neighborhood before moving north.

So when we were looking for new things to see in Chicago on our recent trip, the Oriental Institute captured our attention quite thoroughly, with a special exhibit on pre-Pharaonic Egypt. If I haven’t explained already, The Kid’s greatest love and source of imaginings is ancient Egypt.

We’ve been to the Field Museum in Chicago many times to see their Egyptian collection, but here was something we hadn’t seen yet, and in a familiar neighborhood besides.

The statue of King Tut at the Oriental Institute came from Luxor, and is rightly described as "colossal".

We rounded up sister Jen and her partner Andrea, and off to the Oriental Institute we went. It’s on the U of C campus, one of many among the university’s historic Gothic structures. Always feels like you’re walking into a church at that school. But the buttressing and high ceilings are practically a structural need at this museum, which boasts some massive stone artifacts from the Middle East.

It turned out these were the highlight of the tour for Shaylyn, who was captivated by the massive statue of Tutankhamun in the Egyptian Gallery of the museum and later on, the shaggy-headed man-bull statues from ancient Persepolis.

This massive stone statue was meant to inspire awe in ancient Persepolis, which it still does in modern-day Chicago.

Andrea and I got far behind to begin with, as the rest of the gang raced around gasping and pointing… We were reading all the texts and labels.

But that didn’t last; there was just too much to see. The museum is small by some standards, but it’s no trouble to spend several hours examining all the collections.

Walking into the Assyrian gallery, there’s a feeling unfamiliar to most modern Westerners. It’s the urge to kneel, to revere, to acknowledge a hand more powerful than yours.

That’s largely due to the recreation of relief sculptures and statues excavated from the throne room of King Sargon II, who reigned in Khorsabad (now northern Iraq) in the 700s, B.C.E. That guy was not messing around when it came to showing off who was king.

Just one note on the Egypt gallery, since we spent the most time in there; the explanation of the different forms of Egyptian writing was awesome. Easily the most clear and imagination-inspiring I’ve read. These docents obviously have a love for their work and take care in doing it.

The entrance admission is technically free, as are guided tour materials, but there are “suggested donation” boxes aplenty, and by the time you’re through looking, you’ll probably give them more than the suggested amount anyway, just because of the sheer impressiveness of the collections and attractive, educational displays.

The museum store boasts lots of kid- and adult-friendly gifts related to Egypt and the Middle East, and there was no way we could get out of there without several spur-of-the-moment purchases; books and jewelry were among our acquisitions.

Have you been to the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago? What did you think? Where else would you go?

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